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The Fall of the House of Usher: Opera Meets Poe-try

Posted By: Arts Alive · 1/23/2013 12:23:00 PM

 

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher.

So begins The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe (read the rest here). Before continuing on to the house, where the narrator's invalid friend Roderick awaits, the narrator stops his horse at the edge of a pond. He glances down at the reflection of the house in the water with "a shudder even more thrilling than before." Edgar Allan Poe is the master of taking a scene from life--a spooky house, a love affair, a common (or uncommon) human fear--and reflecting it back to the reader in a way that makes that scene even more thrilling than before. Another master of this kind of thrilling inversion? The enduring art form of opera.

So it's only fitting that the Long Beach Opera open their "Borderline" season with a production of Philip Glass' opera The Fall of the House of Usher, based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe.

Here's Andreas Mitisek, artistic and general director at the Long Beach Opera, talking about why this season is "Borderline," the spooky story of Roderick and his twin, and why Glass' music is a perfect fit for Poe's tale:

 

 

Even the venue seems well-matched for a story about reality and illusion--it's the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro, a 1930's Art Deco picture palace that Jack Warner (president of Warner Bros. Studios) called "The Castle of Your Dreams."


Warner Grand Theatre

 

Long Beach Opera's production of The Fall of the House of Usher opens this Sunday, January 27th,  with additional performances on Saturday, February 2nd and Sunday, February 3rd. For tickets and more information, click here.

Cast: Suzan Hanson (soprano) as Madeline Usher, Ryan MacPherson (tenor) as Roderick Usher, Jonathan Mack (tenor) as the Physician, Lee Gregory (baritone) as William and Nick Shelton (bass) as the Servant

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